Posts Tagged ‘1957’

1957 – “Mr. Fantastic” Robot – Andy Frain Jr. (American)


1957 – "Mr. Fantastic" Ushering Robot by Andy Frain Jr..

A tape recorder replays the ushering commentary via a speaker in 'his' chest. 'His' right toe has a sensor that counts the passing crowd.


An interesting anecdote about Andy Frain, Jr.

Source: The San Bernardino County, May 21 1954.

Runs $1 Million Firm
His Pay: $15 a Week
Chicago (UP) – Andy Frain, Jr., 20, who is running the family's million-dollar ushering business during his father's illness, makes more money at it than rumored.
Asked to comment on reports his allowance was only $10 a week he replied: "Actually, it's about $15."

See other early Pseudo and Fake Robots here.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.

Tags: , , , ,

1957 onwards – Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)


1974 Japanese Sci-Fi image of a Space Tug by Shigeru Komatsuzaki. Whilst it looks aggressive and attacking, it appears to be a rescue vehicle.


Space Tugs by Sokolov and Leonov c1965.


A depiction of an Unmanned Orbital Free-Flyer, similar to the 1982-4 Telepresence Servicer Unit (TSU) concept. Image source:


Detail: Image source:


Artwork by Don Davis for “Icarus Descending” (1973). In the story the tug is delivering a large nuclear device (helpfully labled “DANGER”) in order to divert the asteroid Icarus from a collision with Terra.


Space pod from the anime Macross. Image source:


United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol cruiser from the TV series Quark, 1977.


Image by Robert McCall.

SPACE 5-illus-david-hardy-79

Space 5, Sci-fi anthology by Richard Davis, 1979.


Image similar to 1958 Lockheed Astrotug.


Image from some NASA document.

Space Travellers

The manipulator arms are just grapplers in this concept. Image from Getty Images.


A Lunar lander, probably in a lunar orbit, using an extendible arm to transfer a disable astronaut in space. Concept by Grumman.


Manned Space pods similar to the 1978 Manned Remote Work Station (MRWS) by Grumman.


One-man rocket propulsion device with manipulator arms to hold cargo. From the youth nonfiction 1961 book, “What Does An Astronaut Do?” by Robert Wells.


Pilgrim-1 is a model kit. Pictured is the One-Man EVA craft (OMEVAC), also called Astrotug or “Little Toot”. Image source: via


Illustration from the children’s book “Space Flight The Coming Exploration of the Universe”, published by Golden Press, New York, 1959.


1957 Lion Annual cover. Now that’s a Space Robot.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1957 – “Otto Matrix” the Robot – (American)

Grinter & Woolich with robot – University of Florida ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education)  1957

© 2004 – 2013 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.

State Fair, Florida (same robot as above)

© 2004 – 2013 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries..

WOW! It's A Real Robot
8 Mar 1965
Otto Matrix, a robot with an appeal for the whole family, will be a featured attraction during this week's Engineers' Fair at the University of Florida. Otto's nose lights up in a red "WOW" for the benefit of attractive girls and chldren alike. He's shown here with engineering student Nick Touchton and Molly Wing of Gainsville. The fair opens a three-day run March 12.

Lucky Mechanical Man
10 Mar 1967
Pretty Janis Lynn Biewend of St. Petersburg, queen of the University of Florida's 22nd annual Engineer's Fair, thinks Otto Matrix, the Mechanical Man, is kind of cute. Both Miss Biewend and Otto will be at the free fair this weekend at the Engineering Building where various and unusual exhibits will demonstrate the marvelous engineering feats of man. Theme of the fair is "Engineering – A Better Tomorrow." Miss Biewend is a graduate of Gainsville High School …

'Old Otto' Faves Generation Gap
17 Apr 1970

"Old Otto" the robot who for 22 years greeted visitors the the University of Florida's annual Engineer's Fair looks askance at his replacement being assembled by Charles Durick of Lakeland. Otto is now "robot emeritus" and has been granted permanent retirement quaters in a closet. His replacement, yet unnamed, is radio-controlled, can sing, whistle and chase coeds. He was built by student members of the institute of Electrical Engineering. To build him students contributed their coffee money, the UF gave scrap parts and Mororola Corp. donated some integrated circuits. The new robot can turn on a spot, use his "hands" to grasp, fully rotate his head, "hear" and "speak."

•  ARTICLE Source: Gator Robotics' mascot, Otto, to get upgraded
Courtesy of Gator Robotics
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 11:53 pm | Updated: 11:59 pm, Wed Sep 18, 2013.
Lawrence Chan, Avenue Writer | Courtesy of Gator Robotics
The Gator Robotics Club intends to refit and rebuild a 7-foot humanoid robot.
After two years of operation as the Gator Robotics outreach mascot, Otto the robot’s battery failed, and he was placed into storage last year. 

However, Otto’s project leader, 20-year-old UF junior John Milns, plans to rebuild and upgrade the metal mascot.

“His battery ran out and an accidental collision into a doorway knocked Otto out of commission,” Milns said. “Our goal this year is to fix him up and upgrade him better than before.”

Along with battery troubles, Otto’s arm was violently launched awry from the main body after performing his duties for the day.

Otto’s design originated from an earlier incarnation of the robot built in 1957 for an engineering fair. This version of Otto was scrapped for parts a week after the fair, and the robot was forgotten until 2011 when Michael Andrews, president of the Benton 

Engineering Council, asked Gator Robotics to rebuild the robot.
Milns said that robotics club members will be working to fix the mechanisms in the robot’s arms and replace the battery. Plans are also in place to mechanize Otto’s hips for rotational movement and to refit his chest with a latched opening to facilitate future repairs and upgrades.

“Our goal this year is to have him operational by the end of the Fall semester,” Milns said. Prior to decommissioning, the robot could move its eyes, mouth and arms. A sensor in Otto’s right hand allowed the robot to respond to handshakes with prerecorded dialogue and a wave.

According to the Gator Robotics website, Otto’s frame of wood and aluminum is powered by a small 12-volt battery and an Arduino microprocessor. Materials and funds for the robot’s construction are provided by the Benton Engineering Council and club member donations, Milns said. Kevin French, publicity director of Gator Robotics, said Otto is one of three robot projects run by Gator Robotics.

Other projects include Lunabotics, a lunar rover design intended to mine the surface of the moon, and Tailgator, a tailgating robot designed to cool drinks and make burgers. Work on Otto is intended to ease new members of the organization into the Gator Robotics design process.

“Because Otto is mostly built already, he’s the easiest project to familiarize new members,” French said. “We also want new members to have fun brainstorming upgrades to Otto.”

Twenty-year-old UF economics junior Nicholas Mils thinks the new robot is very intriguing and would be eye-catching during school events.

“It’ll be cool if the robot becomes a new mascot for the school,” Mils said. “I think it’s a pretty awesome idea.”

A version of this story ran on page 10 on 9/19/2013 under the headline "Otto the robot, let me upgrade you"

•  ARTICLE Source: Robotics club recreates 1950s robot for University of Florida Engineering Week by Javier Edwards, Alligator. Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 

A 7-foot robot named Otto built by the Gator Robotics club stands on display on the Colonnade last Wednesday. The robot is a replica of the original bot, which was built in 1957 [1950?] by an electrical engineering student from UF.

Using three photographs, a 55-year-old video clip and $700 from the Benton Engineering Council, the UF Gator Robotics club resurrected a 7-foot robot from the past.

Michael Andrews, president of the Benton Engineering Council, asked Gator Robotics last month to rebuild a robot named Otto, which was built by a UF electrical engineer in 1957 [cyberneticzoo- maybe 1950?].

The robot is the mascot for Engineering Week, which ends today. Otto will be on display at the State of the College Address at 5:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

The seven-student design team completed the basic construction of the robot Wednesday, said Camilo Buscaron, president of Gator Robotics.

“I’m really proud of the work they did,” he said. The robot can move its eyes, mouth and arms, 18-year-old material science and engineering freshman Kevin French said. The team plans to add a speaker so Otto can talk and to give Otto the ability to shake hands and wave.

“We have been brainstorming all kinds of things to add to him. Everything from a jet pack to tank treads,” French said. “Maybe a team in the future will make a female Otto, and it’ll be like the new Albert and Alberta.”

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1957 – HECK and Robot Floor Cleaner – Donald G. Moore – RCA / Whirlpool (American)

The console of HECK with the floor cleaner being activated.

Mechanix Illustrated, Nov, 1959

By James C. G. Conniff [edited version – see full text here.]

An automated house with electronic devices that awaken you in the morning, make your bed, prepare your breakfast, clean house and make it burglar-proof while you are out.
All of these electronic miracles are in existence. They are products of the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, N. J., and scientists of the Radio Corporation of America are working today to make them available to you tomorrow.
Let’s examine the automated house and its amazing Home Electronic Center, which consists of a miniaturized system of all-electronic mechanisms already lab-tested at Princeton. This system will let your wife run her home by push-buttons in a few short years. For example, with this Home Electronic Center setup your wife will dial the electronic controls the night before to wake you gently to music in the morning. The system will shut the window when you get up or turn up the heat or air conditioning. ….
RCA engineers call this wonder system the Home Electronic Center Kid, or HECK. While your wife snoozes on, silent HECK is busy preparing your breakfast—chilled juice, hot coffee, eggs and toast—which will be served by HECK as you approach the kitchen table.
You eat in a room suffused with electronic sunshine, even in the coldest weather. A tilt-up, table-top Telefax reports world news in text and pictures while HECK clears the outside walks of snow via buried heat grids. An electronically-activated servo mechanism opens the garage doors and warms up the car.
When your wife finally gets up, HECK has already done your dishes and tidied up and will do the same for her. While she enjoys a breakfast, HECK silently sorts and washes the laundry, dries it and folds it before dusting the house by electronic precipitation.
HECK will make the beds and quietly dispose of all garbage via machinery and deep underground tanks. All your wife has to do, besides keeping pantry and freezer loaded, is insert punched menu cards to have HECK come up with a simple snack or an elaborate dinner at a pre-set time. An ingenious delayed-transmission unit stores current to run this automatic household for 24 hours in case of power failure.
HECK will record telephone messages while you’re out and turn up the electroluminescent panel-lighting to welcome you home after dark. A simple but thief-proof key-and-IBM-card arrangement permits HECK to receive goods and pay de-liverymen by check during your absence. HECK will instantly signal for police if burglars try to break in when you are out or sound an alarm in case of fire.
A mobile radio-controlled unit to trim grass and hedges, powered by wafer-thin atomic batteries and responsive to HECK’s command, is also planned for this dream house.

These are just some of the electronic miracles that you will live to see. They are in the labs today. They will be in your home tomorrow.

Donald G. Moore's patent diagram correlates with the layout in the above images.


Patent info: Perambulating kitchen appliances and control means therefor by Donald G. Moore.

See the full patent here.

Patent number: 3010129
Filing date: Nov 4, 1957
Issue date: Nov 28, 1961

Donald G. Moore's patent included a travelling dishwasher as well.

See other early remote-controlled and robotic vacuum cleaners and floor scrubbers here.

1957 – Remote-Controlled Painting Machine – Akira Kanayama (Japanese)

Akira Kanayama’s painting machine from 1957 was a four-wheeled device that Kanayama could remote-control to create paintings approximately 180 by 280 cm. The canvas lay on the floor and the machine dripped and poured paint on the picture pane.

The painting machine is an early example of the machine/robot in the role of artist. Kanayama’s remote-controlled painting machine mimics Jackson Pollock’s drips painting –a technique he developed in the 1940’ties.

At the same time the machine follows Pollock’s ideas of automation and physical detachment between artist and painting, bringing it to a new level, but at the same time it makes fun of role of the artist – no longer an inspired and gesturing artist, but a homemade machine spilling paint. [See comments about Pollock by Dr. Prof. Machiko Kusahara below.]

Text and Pic Source: Electrifying Painting, Ming Tiampo

Kanayama began making his Machine Drawings (fig. 24) in 1957, which were a critique of automatism and the value it placed on self-expression through gestural painting. Kanayama’s Machine Drawings were made by attaching a can of quick-drying paint to an automatic toy car that created paintings whether or not the artist was even in the room…… Both Kanayama and Tanaka used technology as a markmaking instrument. By using a vocabulary of form that had technological rather than psychological origins, Kanayama and Tanaka launched a conceptual attack on the Informel and Abstract Expressionist idea that art could or should be an expression of the soul, poured out and worked on a canvas.

Kanayama hanging his painting done with a remote control mechanical car on vinyl (1957). See Note at bottom.

Source: The Avant-Garde in Exhibition, Altshuler 1994. Photograph – Sinichiro Osaki, Hyogo Prefecture Museum of Modern Art, Kobe, Kyoto Municipal Museum, 1957.

Akira Kanayama was the secretary of the Gutai group. He jokingly said that the position involved so much work that he had no time to paint and instead let a remote-controlled toy car paint for him. The resulting Work (1957) can be seen as a critique against Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, with which they have some resemblance. In Kanayama, the male genius who expresses his feelings with paint is supplanted by a toy car that randomly zooms around the paper, leaving a trail of paint. Kanayama thus challenged the artist's personal relevance to the quality and ingenuity of the work.

Group photo: Yamazaki, Shiraga, Shimamoto, Murakami, Kanayama, Motonaga,
Tanaka, Ukita.

Pic Source: here.

Both Tanaka (1932 – 2005) and Kanayama (1924 – 2006), two of Japan’s best-known artists, were members of the Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai (Gutai Art Association), an avant-garde art group founded in 1954 in Osaka with the mission to create “an art which has never existed before.”  As members of the group, they became famous for seminal pieces with which they remain associated today: Tanaka’s Electric Dress (1956), a jumble of electric cables and lit-up colored lightbulbs which she wore like a garment; and Kanayama’s four-wheel remote control device which enabled him to create automatic Remote-Control Paintings (1957).  The artists married and left the group in the mid-1960s, and continued their artistic careers (at a steady pace in Tanaka’s case, in Kanayama’s case more intermittently) through the beginning of the 2000s.

Origins of Japanese Media Art – Artists Embracing Technology from 1950s to Early 1970s

Author: Dr. Prof. Machiko Kusahara

Painting by Machine
The Gutai artist Akira Kanayama is less known compared to his partner Atsuko Tanaka, the artist known for her “Electric Dress (1956), although the original use of technology and interest in materials that had not been traditionally used in art were shared among them. Kanayama helped Tanaka in realizing her ideas that involved technology such as her piece “Work (Bell)” (1955). Kanayama’s “Work” series produced mostly around 1957 involved a remote-controlled car with paint tanks he built himself, modifying a toy car. Kanayama tested a variety of crayons, markers, black and color ink with which the car scribbled or dripped while moving on large pieces of paper and later on white vinyl sheets, which he found the most appropriate for his purpose. While the artist operated the car on a sheet laid on the floor, its trajectory and the resulting traces of ink were never under the perfect control of the artist. Instead of directly employing one’s own body, as in case of other Gutai artists such as Kazuo Shiraga and Saburo Murakami, Kanayama used a mechanical medium and chance operation to drawn lines. His use of plastic inflatables and footsteps on vinyl sheets in other works also suggest his positive interest in new materials, and mediated representation of body. However, when Gutai was “discovered” by the French critic / art dealer Michel Tapié and internationally introduced, these features of Kanayama’s works were disregarded. It is said that his “Work” series was interpreted as alike of Jackson Pollock’s “all-over” style in the art world outside Japan, neglecting the interesting questions that arose about originality and the role of technology in art.

Eventually Gutai artists including Tanaka shifted to “paintings” rather than three-dimensional works involving unusual medium. By the time when Gutai was invited to participate the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka, Kanayama and Tanaka left the group.

Note: Some references give 1955 as the date for Kanayama's Remote-Controlled Painting Machine.  The first of the Gutai expositions were in 1955, but I've only been able to trace the machine to the 3rd expositiion held in a Museum in 1957. The 1955 exposition was an outdoor one.

The book Avant-Guard is also confused over these aspects, saying on the one hand the remote drawing machines were new for the 1957 Museum exposition, but also suggesting they were made earlier, but no proof is offered for the 1955 date. 

So claims such as ", prefiguring the Métamatic painting machines that the Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely, began to build in 1959."  are not correct from two fronts. Tinguely's MetaMatic Drawing Machine No.1 is from 1959, but two earlier drawing machines were built in 1955, the first, called "Machine à Dessiner No. 1"exhibited in the Le Movement exhibition in 1955

Tags: , , , , , ,